It's no secret that there's a huge stigma surrounding mental health. I've blogged before about the , and even some of the positives I've gleaned from mine, but I thought I'd address some of the other statements and negativity we get dealt with on a regular basis, just for being ourselves.
* "YOU'RE WAY TOO EMOTIONAL. "I've actually been admonished for "being a baby" for tears that people didn't understand. Yes, I'm probably more emotional than a lot of people. But I'm not a baby. I'm not weak. I'm not spoiled. I have a big heart. I feel things greatly, deeply. It means if you were in trouble, I'd feel it so greatly I'd move mountains to help you.It means I also feel joy and excitement greatly too.Is that such a bad thing?
* "YOU'RE UNREALISTIC/DELUSIONAL." Mood cyclers have expansive brains. They stretch to extremes. They're often incredibly creative, imaginative, visionary. Did you know that Beethoven, Van Gogh, and Picasso are all said to have had (or were actually diagnosed with) Bipolar Disorder? Just because our dreams and brains stretch a bit further into areas some can't understand, just because our paths aren't always the same as yours, doesn't make us unrealistic or delusional. It may well mean we reach heights or discover paths others don't think to go.
* "YOU CAN'T CHANGE. IT'S JUST HOW YOU ARE." Yes, there are parts of the condition that may always be there. We may always be a little bit more emotional, a bit more imaginative. But we are humans. And humans have the ability to adjust. Even if a trait or characteristic I have is influenced by my condition, it doesn't mean I can't take note and make an effort to change it. It may be harder for me than others, but nothing is set in stone. With science these days, we can transplant entire missing organs. Don't tell me it's impossible to adjust small personality characteristics.
* "YOU'LL ONLY GET WORSE. YOU'LL NEVER GET BETTER."It's a physical condition. It can be helped by medication like any other. Furthermore, I know people who managed to come off medication for good. I know people who have had years without cycling. If I had diabetes, and I took the appropriate medication and kept the appropriate diet, I doubt you'd blame all of my issues on diabetes and be positive that I'd never "be normal". It's the same with my condition. My brain is just another organ.
* "YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS ABOUT. YOUR LIFE IS GOOD." Ahh this makes me want to scream (and sometimes I do). I'm not depressed about anything. I know people who've had lung cancer and not smoked a day in their life. They aren't cancerous about something. They didn't choose it, or even do something that made it a more likely possibility. It just happened. Perhaps, like my condition, it was genetic and they couldn't have prevented it if they tried. And besides, just because my life may look good or easy or happy, I have this damn gremlin inside my head that f*cks around with my brain on a regular basis, often when I'm least expecting it. That, I assure you, is not easy, no matter how great my life may look to you.
* "I HAVE TO WALK ON EGGSHELLS BECAUSE OF YOUR CONDITION." Absolutely not! I don't want to be treated like a pariah or a child. I don't want to be simply "tolerated" or "dealt with". If you talk to me, truly listen to me, learn about my condition, really understand who I am, then you'll learn how to communicate with me, just as I learn how to communicate with you. We all, as human beings, condition or not, have those things that are easy or tough, exciting or painful, pet peeves and idiosyncrasies, and we learn how to interact and work with each other taking these all into consideration.
Stigma happens because of these types of stereotypes. People with mental health conditions - at least one out of every four people in the United States - have to worry about their employers, colleagues, dates, even friends and family knowing about their condition for fear that they won't look at them the same, that they'll distance themselves or treat them differently. They often feel ashamed, isolated, alone. So instead of spreading that stigma with statements like the ones above, really talk to us about our conditions with an open mind(if the person is ok with doing so). I promise you, we aren't creatures from the black lagoon. We are human beings, who happen to have a condition, would be thrilled to eliminate the ignorance that creates the stigma, through education and communication.